Friday 26 May 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 26/5/23

Is it me or are Friday's coming around faster? lol

Time to reflect on the week and then head over to Susanne's site to see who else is taking part.  Join us here.

This week I'm grateful for:

1)  Quiet starts to the day.  Often my Hubby is first up and he will kindly bring me breakfast in bed, which is of course a blessing in itself.  But I also love days like today, where I'm first up, the house is quiet and I can enjoy my first cup of tea of the day looking out at the garden and watching the birds on the bird feeder.

This is my view from the dining room window.  

2)  Sunny, dry weather.  The weather has been good this week - no rain and a fair bit of sunshine.  Not too hot yet either.

Hubby and I did a walk together on Tuesday and I noticed that there are now 6 cygnets with our swan couple.

Last time I saw them together there were only 5.

3)  Good local community.  Last Sunday we had the Highams Park Spring Festival in the park.  There were a variety of stalls, music acts, classic cars, shire horses, fairground rides etc.  It was really well attended and I spent a couple of hours volunteering - first on the "Pelt a Pal" stall - which involved throwing wet sponges at someone in the stocks.  I didn't get any photos but I'm sure you get the idea.  Unfortunately it was a bit cooler last Sunday and not many people wanted to get wet.

My second hour was spent marshalling one of the road that leads down to the park that had been closed apart from resident's access.  That wasn't too arduous either although we did have to keep stopping people from parking on the through road as this had a stretch of "No Parking" for the day and the traffic wardens had clearly been out issuing tickets.

The event was really well attended and I'm glad that we're in an area where there is a good community feel.

4)  We had Rory, Vinny and their Mummy here from Saturday to Sunday as my son was away (Running a marathon in the Brecon Beacons!) so we took a picnic lunch over to the park before I did my volunteering stint.  Always good to spend time with the Grandkids and family but this week has been a bit quieter as Nathan and Ella are on holiday with their Mummies so I've been able to relax a bit more and get some reading done.

5)  A Knit and Natter session on Wednesday evening.  Always a fun time and I met Hubby afterwards for a quick drink in a local bar.

Have a good weekend all.

Thursday 25 May 2023

Book Reviews - The Lost Apothecary and The Night She Disappeared

It's been a fairly quiet week here - my daughter and her family are away on holiday so there has been less grandsitting required.  Taken advantage of this by catching up on some reading!

The Lost Apothecary My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course

Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.

Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

I did enjoy this book - it was an interesting story linking a historical tale with the current day. It's certainly an impressive debut novel. But, I couldn't give it 5 stars as I felt it was a bit lacking in depth. The page count is listed as 320, it felt shorter than that when reading it and it could have benefitted from more details in places.

The Night She DisappearedThe Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's nearly midnight and you're home alone with only your baby grandson for company. Your daughter and her boyfriend have gone out to a party; the first time they've been out since their son was born. And now you are waiting for them to come home. But they don't. The next morning, frantic, you ring your daughter's friends, and you're told that she was last seen heading to a party in an isolated village known as Dark Place ...

An unsolved mystery, family secrets, a boarding school for difficult teenagers, and an unidentified body.

This was certainly a gripping book - I finished it within 2 days. It was a little bit jumpy between time frames for me, hence no 5 stars and there were a couple of aspects that I didn't find totally plausible but it was still a great read.

View all my reviews

Friday 19 May 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 19/5/23

It's Friday!  Time to look back on the blessings of the past week.  Thanks to our host Susanne who you can find here.

1)  Firstly I'm grateful to Susanne for keeping the Friday Five going each week especially when I've had a week of no blogging.  A weekly post is better than nothing.

2)  We celebrated 2 birthdays this week - our daughter's was last Saturday and we babysat for her so she and her wife could go out for dinner and see a show.  We even managed to get the kids in bed and asleep.  The second birthday was Grandson Noah's.  He turned 5 on Wednesday.  We didn't get to see him but we'll celebrate when we're all together for Rory's birthday in a couple of weeks.

3)  Grateful to have lovely DILs.  Noah's Mummy was set a challenge this week - Noah wanted a snail cake for his birthday.  She didn't disappoint him.

4)  There were a couple of things going on this week that were causing me a bit of anxiety but thankfully they were both resolved.

5)  We had a good time visiting some of the stalls taking part in the Jumble Trail last Sunday.  The weather was lovely so it was nice to be out and about.  We didn't buy much - just a couple of bits for the Grandkids and a couple of albums and CDs for Hubby.

Bonus item - I finally managed to finish The Picture of Dorian Gray which Goodreads describes as:

For over a century, this mesmerizing tale of horror and suspense has enjoyed wide popularity. It ranks as one of Wilde's most important creations and among the classic achievements of its kind.

Well it took me 10 days to read, even though it's not a particularly long book.  It was not mesmerizing or suspenseful but it is another book ticked off the BBC list.  I've moved onto a chick lit book now for some light relief!  

Have a good weekend all.

Friday 12 May 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 12/5/23

Each Friday a group of us post about the good things from our week.  Our host Susanne keeps us on track - visit her here to find out more and see who else is joining in.

Here is my list for this week:

1)  Peace and quiet on the day of the Coronation.  Hubby had gone out and I had the house (and the TV remote) to myself.

2)  A knit and natter session on Wednesday.  Always fun to get together with other crafters.

3)  Solving an issue with an appliance thanks to finding an online manual.  Although I did end up having to e-mail customer support as I thought the one I had found online was only in German.  Turned out I just needed to scroll down about 50 pages to find the English section!  

4)  Hello Fresh meals this week.  We had a lovely chicken dish including Serrano ham and a truffled mushroom sauce, a pasta dish and a mushroom and bacon risotto.  We don't get them every week but it does add some variety to our meals.

5)  A successful shopping trip today for a dress to wear to a wedding we're going to.  I'm not great at shopping for clothes for me but Hubby tagged along and that helped.  Now I just have to sort out shoes and accessories.

Bonus:  Looking after this one for a few hours yesterday - I got a snuggle on the sofa while watching TV and lunch was pretty hassle free too.

Tomorrow is our daughter's birthday so we're babysitting while she and her wife go out for dinner and then to the theatre and Sunday there is a Jumble Trail in our area.  I'll be looking to see if I can pick up any toys for when the grandkids are here but trying not to add to my piles of books!  

Have a good weekend all and happy Mother's day to friends over the pond.  Ours was back in March.

Sunday 7 May 2023

Bits and Bobs

This weekend was the much anticipated Coronation of King Charles III.

I watched it all on TV in the peace and quiet of my home.  My Hubby, who is not a fan of royalty took himself out.

I enjoyed watching it - we certainly do pomp and ceremony well, even in the rain.  There have also been a lot of street parties taking place and people do seem to have got behind the new King.

Of course there are also people who feel we shouldn't have a monarchy and that the money spent on this event could have been put to better use.  There are pros and cons for both arguments.

It rained on and off all day yesterday but it didn't spoil the event.

Today has been much nicer, warm and sunny.  I've had another lazy day but I did get out for a walk up into the forest and back down by the golf course for a change.  I was glad I'd put my walking boots on though as the rain yesterday has made the paths very muddy again.

We have a bank holiday tomorrow but of course when you're retired it doesn't have the same impact!

I've finally finished reading the Terry Pratchett book I'd started nearly a week ago.  It was the second of his books that I've read for the BBC list I'm still slowly working through.  Thankfully there are no more of his books on the list because I am done with Pratchett.  I don't dislike a bit of fantasy or sci-fi but I found his books hard going.  Perhaps I'm just too old lol.

Friday 5 May 2023

Friday's Fave Five - 5/5/23

On Friday's Susanne prompts us to look back on our week and find the good things we're thankful for.  You can find out more and see who else is joining in here.

1.  Time with Grandsons Noah and Miles.  We hadn't seen them for a while and they're both just getting over chicken pox but they were here last weekend for Nathan's birthday party.

2.  We attended a friend of ours 60th birthday party on Sunday and there were people there that we hadn't seen in a long time.  It was good to be able to catch up.

3.  Good weather this week - I’ve been able to walk around the lake.

4.  Ella was here with her Mummies on Wednesday. Her talking is coming on. She knows a lot of words but still chatters away to herself a lot which is rather cute.

5. Babysitting Rory and Vinny tonight and they’re both in bed without too much hassle. Hopefully they’ll be asleep soon and I’ll have a quiet evening. Their parents have gone to see Les Miserables.

Have a good weekend all. We have another holiday on Monday because of the King’s Coronation but we have no set plans. The forecast is for rain.

Start here

Blogger and spam comments!

I recently checked my spam comments on Blogger following the A-Z challenge - it always seems to spark off a few.

Well to my surprise it seems that a lot of my responses to comments on my blog had been marked as spam.  I have no idea why.  I mean surely blogger should be able to tell that it's me commenting on my own blog and therefore not spam?  Clearly not.

Anyway I have just worked my way through all the spam comments, deleting those that were spam but publishing my own.

Apologies to anyone who suddenly gets a notification of a reply that goes back way back and wonders what the hell is going on.

Wednesday 3 May 2023

Getting out and about

I managed a walk around the lake today.  I think this is the first time this year I've managed to do that in trainers rather than wellies.  It is still quite muddy in places but the edges of the paths are fairly well compacted so easy to walk on.  There was only one part where I went along the right side of the path which turned out to be the wrong side and I had to jump across a patch of mud.  Fortunately I landed on my feet and didn't slip and fall onto my backside!

The weather has been good so far this week and I've walked each day.

The pair of swans have had 4 cygnets this year by the look of things although someone posted pictures yesterday where there seemed to be 5 of them.  There was also a picture of 2 goslings but today there only seemed to be 1 with the pair of geese I saw.  The swan was already in protective mode of the cygnets, as in aggressive mode to any bird that dared to come near them.  It seems to be an ongoing battle every year.  

There is only one pair of swans on the lake and each year once the cygnets are fully grown they have had to be removed from the lake and rehomed elsewhere.  Fortunately there are several places nearby where there are lots of swans and no issues over territory.

These are the pics I took today.

Unfortunately another casualty has been the wooden bridge across the river at the top end of the lake.  It's still passable but the side bars have been vandalised.  Hopefully the authority responsible for the forest will arrange for it to be repaired.

Wednesday Hodgepodge - 3/5/23

Joyce gives us the questions for the Hodgepodge each week.  You can join in here.

1. What's something you 'may' do this month? 
I'd like to go to the Van Gogh Immersive Experience which is currently on in London but there are other things I need to get done first (like sorting out clothing for a wedding next month in Spain!) so I might have to push it back to June.

2. "All things seem possible in May"~Edwin Way Teale. Do you agree? Elaborate. If not May, then in which month if any would you say all things seem possible? 

I think maybe because by May we usually feel that winter is really behind us and things start looking up that maybe we're more positive about things in general.  Although of course it depends on what things we're considering.

3. April showers bring May this true where you live? What's your favourite colour of the rainbow? Your favourite May bloom? Do you enjoy visiting gardens? What's a 'famous' garden you'd like to visit? 

There are definitely more flowers coming out now the weather is improving.  My favourite colour is blue.  I love seeing the blossoms on the trees but some of them are so short lived.  I do enjoy visiting gardens but I don't have one on my to visit list right now.

4. Are you a fan of the Star Wars series of films? If so how many have you seen? (I think there are 12) Are you a fan of the sci-fi genre in general, in either books or movies? What's your favourite sci-fi book or movie? 

Umm I think I might have seen 3.  I don't dislike them but it's not a favourite genre of mine.  Although I'm currently on my second Terry Pratchett Discworld novel as they were on the BBC best 100 books list I'm (very) slowly working through.

5. Cinco de Mayo lands on Friday of this you enjoy Mexican food? How often? Do you eat out or make your own? Your favourite thing to order in a Mexican restaurant? Have you ever been to Mexico? 

Mexican food is not really a favourite of mine and no I've never been to Mexico.

6. Insert your own random thought here. 

As mentioned above we're off to a wedding in Spain next month and before that we have a few days away with all the kids.  I really need to go through my wardrobe!

Tuesday 2 May 2023

A - Z Challenge 2023 - Reflections

#AtoZChallenge 2023 Reflections

Hmm well I think I could just go back to a previous year's Reflection post and copy and paste it here.

Well not quite.

I've been blogging for years but there are often times when I need a challenge to get me back into the rhythm of regular blogging and the A-Z Challenge definitely serves that purpose.

Except it doesn't - well not always.  I start out with good intentions, usually before Christmas, thinking about what I might use as a theme etc and, I've usually got at least a few posts scheduled to post before the 1st April.  My aim being that, if my posts are already done,  I'll have time to visit lots of new blogs.

It never seems to turn out that way.  I often end up winging it and visiting new blogs becomes very sporadic.  I didn't even get to the A-Z homepage very often which I feel is a bit disrespectful to the wonderful team who put this challenge together year after year.  (Although I'm not sure having the lists on the A-Z page was helpful.  As long as the lists are available somewhere to be downloaded I'm happy.)

This year I did manage to have all my posts appear at the right time.  None of them were late so that's an improvement on last year.  But I feel I was lazy with my theme - Being a Grandparent.  I have 6 grandchildren and I love them all to bits so writing about them is really easy.  I certainly wasn't pushing any boundaries.

I don't consider myself a writer as such but I do like to write.  I need to have a good think about how I might approach next year's challenge.

Oh yes I expect to be back.

The links to all my posts for this year can be found here.